Summaries 4/2003

New board of directors

A new board of directors was elected for the Finnish Centre for Technical Terminology (TSK) in October. The board will have a new chairman and three new members. The new chairman is Ari Muhonen from the Helsinki University of Technology Library. The old chairman Mikael Reuter from the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland continues as a member of the board. Marja Hamilo from SET (an association for Finnish electronics and electricity industry), Ari Penttilä from the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters and Antti Rainio from Navinova are the new members. Arto Leinonen from Kielikone and Seija Suonuuti from Nokia continue as board members.

This issue of Terminfo focuses on information technology. For example our Danish colleagues write about terminological concept modelling. Concept modelling and ontologies are very topical in TSK, too. We participate in a research project on ontologies and the Finnish Semantic Web coordinated by the Computer Science Department of the University of Helsinki. The purpose of the project is to develop a national ontology system which would help to make information retrieval methods more user-friendly.

Warm Christmas wishes for all Terminfo readers!

IT journalist needs clear Finnish

Mirja Paatero works as a journalist in MikroPC journal and is also an experienced member of the coordination group of the Finnish Group for IT Terminology.

MikroPC is a publication which covers the IT field extensively. It tests and evaluates products and services and guides on their use, but also observes the technical and commercial development in the field. It has more than 200 000 readers, some of them ordinary computer users, some IT professionals. The journal tries to take its diverse target group into account by making each issue an entity which offers something for the basic as well as the advanced IT users.

The journalist's work usually consists of conceiving ideas, getting and editing information and writing articles. "The job of an IT journalist differs from the traditional one: there is less actual writing, but more editing and supervising of writing processes of articles which come outside the staff" Paatero says. Thinking up ideas and planning takes a lot of a journalist's time, because good ideas for articles — or articles — do not come up if the journalist is not aware of the development in the field. The IT field is large and it takes time to follow it: to read IT journals and press releases and to use the Internet for information retrieval.

It is Paatero's responsibility to edit texts so that they are as fluent and clear as possible. It is also examined whether the content is understandable. Texts are made clearer by deleting foreign expressions and replacing them with Finnish equivalents when possible. Explanatory notes are written beside difficult concepts and sometimes a small glossary is added to the article to explain difficult concepts.

Journalists must be able to produce fluent and grammatically correct texts often very quickly. The influence of English causes headache for IT journalists. Concepts and terms are often created in the English-speaking world from where they spread into Finnish, too. "When we want to write about new things, there is often no Finnish equivalent for a concept" Paatero regrets.

Although the main task of the journal is to make facts understood, there is also some language planning in the journal. "It is important that Finnish keeps up with technical development, and the journal tries to influence language use by promoting certain expressions. Good terms will be established only if they are used" Paatero argues.

This spring Paatero has been four years in the IT terminology coordination group the task of which is to choose and process the material for the project. "The work is not just inventing Finnish terms. The most arduous part of the work is absolutely the defining of concepts. Although a concept is familiar, it can be immensely difficult to define it. In addition, concepts can be difficult and it may be very hard to find out what they exactly mean" Paatero sums up.

Current topic: Information security

More and more often information security affects ordinary computer users. Almost daily we hear about new viruses and other threats to information security. Alarming news make computer users insecure e.g. in the use of the Internet and email. The insecurity is increased by the fact that the terms and concepts used in this field are not always clear to such a person who is not familiar with information technology. Viruses and worms as terms are known by everybody, but how many really know what is meant by these terms?

In the IT field there can be disagreements and contradictory information on the content of concepts, which makes it difficult for an ordinary computer user to understand the concepts. If an unambiguous definition could be found, even a layperson could more easily evaluate problems linked with information security.

In order to clarify information security terms and concepts, TSK started a project to compile a vocabulary on information security this autumn. The vocabulary will contain about 80 basic information security concepts which will be defined in Finnish, and equivalents will be given in English and Swedish.

Because a terminologist is not usually an expert on the subject field, the participation of subject field specialists is essential so that the vocabulary would be trustworthy and of high quality. In practice this means e.g. that the experts must choose concepts for the vocabulary and comment the concept analysis. The terminologist starts by charting the concepts in the field, then analyses the chosen concepts and writes preliminary definitions.

Usually the most time-consuming phase in a terminology project is the concept analysis. When the results of the analysis made by the terminologist are discussed in the project work group, even the experts often see the concepts in a new way and possibly from a new point of view.

When concept systems and definitions are almost ready, the work group must decide on term recommendations. Usually established terms are recommended but sometimes it is necessary to create new terms, e.g. when there is no Finnish term for a new concept. Before a vocabulary is published, it is sent for a comments round outside the work group. The comments may contain e.g. valuable information on the possible defects of the vocabulary.

So far the project work group has chosen the terms to be dealt with in the vocabulary. It is no wonder why things connected with information security often seem frightening: the group will ponder such concepts as attack and information warfare. There are also more neutral terms such as usability and security breach. According to plans, the information security vocabulary will be completed next spring.

Finnish terminology work in medicine

Risto Haarala from Duodecim Medical Journal lectured on Finnish terminology work in medicine in TSK's election meeting in October.

The history of western medicine begins in Greece about 500 years B.C. when Greeks developed the so called humoral theory of the four body fluids. In the Roman Empire many doctors were of Greek origin, and Greek kept its position as the language of medicine until the beginning of the Middle Ages. Not until then Latin gained ground as the language of medicine, but it adopted many loan words from Greek. Latin remained until the 19th century as the dominant language in medicine. However, already in the 16th century medical texts written in living languages were published in Europe, and in addition to Latin terms, native words were adopted.

After the wars, along with expressions of Latin and Greek origin, English terms were also started to be adopted in Finland. Anglo-Saxon terms are typically descriptive and consist of many words, and therefore are difficult to use. Long terms are often abbreviated and abbreviations are used instead of the terms. These abbreviations are often transferred to other languages than English as such.

The oldest Finnish words related to medicine are thousands of years old (such as the Finnish word aivot, brains). The first appearance of Finnish terms in medical texts was in 1692 in a doctoral thesis written in Latin. The first Finnish medical handbook meant for laypersons was published about hundred years later. The first Finnish medical article was published in 1849 and the first Finnish doctoral thesis in 1860.

The number of Finnish expressions in the language of medicine and the fact how established they are still vary quite much. The more detailed the concept is, the rarer it is that it has an established native language designation. Latin is still used often in anatomy, whereas the strong influence of English can be seen e.g. in the names of new diseases. Synonyms are typical for the language of medicine. A concept may have a Latin designation, a version adapted into Finnish, a native designation and even an abbreviation.

In the 19th century all medical education in Finland was given in Swedish and there were almost no Finnish terms. The lack of Finnish terms made it difficult to speak, write or teach in Finnish. A group of medical students concerned about this flaw decided to found a Finnish medical society called Duodecim in 1881. The purpose of the society was to create and develop the Finnish language and Finnish terminology in medicine. Soon after the foundation, the society started to work on the first Finnish medical dictionary and Duodecim Medical Journal was founded in 1885.

Duodecim has a terminology committee which gives recommendations on the language use in medicine. The committee also acts as the editorial board for Duodecim's dictionaries. The editorial work of dictionaries is continuous. After one edition has been published, the drafting of a new one is started immediately. New terms are collected from medical publications.

The task of Duodecim Medical Journal is also to cherish and develop the Finnish language in medicine. A Finnish language editor is responsible for the clarity and grammar of the articles. There has been a language editor in the journal from the first issue, and the task was given to Haarala for more than 20 years ago. "My objective is grammatically and terminologically correct, clear and as easy-to-read texts as possible. In my job the usual checking of linguistic forms, solving term problems and editing texts are combined" Haarala says.

According to Haarala, Duodecim Medical Journal is an excellent channel for impressing new terms on the medical profession, because more than 90% of the Finnish doctors are members of the Medical Society Duodecim and get the journal as a member's benefit. It is possible to promote a recommended term in the journal in order to establish it.

Terminology work in medicine and promoting Finnish terms is important for example because according to law doctors must give clear information to patients on their diseases. "Doctors should be brought to use understandable and native terminology to make the communication between a doctor and a patient more easy. It is specially important to take this into account in teaching" Haarala reminds.

New terms must be adopted into Finnish. Some of the Finnish terms must be created deliberately and it may take long before a solution satisfying everybody is reached. Decisions on new terms are made by the terminology committee and the editors of Duodecim journal. The job can be called challenging since health and diseases are often very important to people. "It is not insignificant which words are used when talking about these things. Even designations referring to seemingly technical details may cause problems if they are chosen incorrectly."

Finnish IT terms

The Finnish Group for IT Terminology project has been going on since 1999, and this year the coordination group has met three times to decide on new recommendations.

Average IT users form the target group, and their needs strongly influence which concepts are dealt with in the project. The coordination group chooses concepts on the basis of requests from the users or linked to current themes that are interesting for the target group. From the beginning, the Group's objective has been to give Finnish term recommendations for concepts that are in some way or other connected with IT.

Mere term recommendations do not help if there is no information in which meaning the terms can be used. Therefore the coordination group often considers the definitions and notes for concepts long and thoroughly. The objective is to write such descriptions that can be understood without special knowledge on IT, and this poses an additional challenge for the definition work. Usually this means balancing between easy-to-understand and technically accurate descriptions.

In the IT field names and abbreviations which are transferred into Finnish as such cannot be forgotten in recommendations. The Group tries to make it easier to understand and use names and abbreviations by telling to which they refer.

Terminological concept modelling

Bodil Nistrup Madsen, Hanne Erdman Thomsen and Carl Vikner compare in their article three types of approach to analysing special field terminology, i.e. lexicographic, traditional terminological and an approach where a terminological concept analysis is done with the help of characteristics and concept relations. They take examples from an IT terminology which is originally made from a lexicographic viewpoint.

They compared two expressions. One was hjemmeside (home page), sometimes called indgangsside (start page), which had two definitions. The other was websted (web site, home page), synonyms hjemmeside and website. The lexicographic definitions of these expressions gave some ideas about the relations between them, but the definitions were not precise nor consistent and it was difficult to form a clear picture of the concepts in question.

The traditional terminological analysis made it clear that these four expressions referred to two concepts: hjemmeside and indgangsside referred to one concept and hjemmeside, websted and website referred to the other. The terminological analysis also revealed that webside is a part of hjemmeside (according to the second definition) and that hjemmeside (first definition) is a subordinate concept for webside. The terminological analysis made similarities and differences between the two meanings of hjemmeside clearer, but the definitions were still not quite clear.

If characteristics in a concept system are entered in the form of characteristic specifications, it is possible to make certain differences and subordinate relations clearer and thus to formulate better definitions. Characteristic specifications in this case are e.g. representation: in which form data is presented (electronic), manipulation: data can be manipulated as an entity (file), coding: data is coded with hypertext language (hypertext file) and access: data is accessed via the Web (web data) or hypertext file is accessed via the Web (web page). So the definition for websted, synonyms website and hjemmeside, would be "web data consisting of web pages through which a person or an organization appears on the Web".

The Department of Computational Linguistics in the Copenhagen Business School is developing a terminological tool, the interactive IT system CAOS (Computer Aided Ontology Structuring). The core of this system is concept modelling based on the formalizing of characteristics with the help of characteristic specifications.


SFS standards
SFS-ISO 6531 Machinery for forestry. Portable hand-held chain-saws. Vocabulary and SFS-EN 13360 Rubber- or plastic-coated fabrics. Terminology. Both standards contain the English text and its Finnish translation. Chain-saw terms are also given in Swedish and fabric terms in French and German. The chain-saw standard contains many pictures to illustrate definitions.

Building terms
Senior architect Martti Tiula's causeries published in a Finnish building magazine in 1997–2000 have been collected together and published as a book called Termipakki. In addition to causeries, it contains an introduction to the basic principles of terminology and a vocabulary of more than 400 terms which have been picked up from Tiula's causeries. The terms are defined in Finnish and have equivalents in Swedish and English. There are also some recommendations on the use of terms.

Two IT encyclopedias
The second edition of Hannu Jaakohuhta's IT encyclopedia was published this autumn. It contains about 16 500 terms with definitions. The terms have been revised and updated. The dictionary contains specially Finnish and English terms but some Swedish, French and German terms are also included. The subject fields of the dictionary are e.g. telecommunication, information security, electronics, tv and audio engineering. It also contains appendixes such as a smiley list and e-mail abbreviations.

The fifth edition of Petteri Järvinen's IT encyclopedia was published this autumn. It contains almost 5000 IT terms and abbreviations e.g. on telecommunication, programming, the Internet and mobile technologies. Entry words are in Finnish and English, definitions in Finnish. The book lists Internet addresses where more information may be found and contains plenty of pictures to illustrate terms.

Sea Ice Nomenclature
The glossary presents ice terms related to the Baltic Sea in the WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature in English, Finnish, Swedish, Estonian and Russian. The purpose of the glossary is to promote winter navigation in the Baltic Sea by providing seafarers with a common sea ice terminology. The glossary gives an exhaustive description of different ice types and concepts related with ice. The glossary contains definitions in all five languages and also illustrations. It is published by the Finnish Maritime Administration.

Textile and clothing dictionary
This CD-ROM contains two previously published textile vocabularies: Vocabulary of Clothing (1985) and Vocabulary of Textiles (1991). There are terms in Finnish, Swedish, English and German. These terms can also be found in TSK's TEPA term bank (